2013 college football's most versatile players: The Hornung Award list

Kirk Irwin

Dri Archer, De'Anthony Thomas and Loucheiz Purifoy are among the players most likely to take home the Paul Hornung Award, given to college football's most versatile player. (Johnny Manziel is involved, too.)

The Paul Hornung Award, a relatively new trophy founded in 2010 to honor the most versatile college football players in America, released its watch list Friday, featuring 44 players who have exhibited the ability to help their teams in multiple ways.

The early favorites have to be Dri Archer, who's a firecracker at running back for Kent State while also returning kicks, Loucheiz Purifoy, who is mainly a defensive back but also took snaps on offense for Florida and blocked two kicks, and De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon's explosive running back who will finally get the chance to start for the Ducks while also returning punts. Archer, USC's Marqise Lee, and Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews were finalists last year, eventually losing to West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, who started a game at running back for the Mountaineers and played on special teams.

If we're going off pure versatility, Bruce Ellington probably deserves acknowledgement for being not just a strong receiver and return man for South Carolina's football team, but also starting at point guard for the Gamecocks' basketball team. And, yes, Johnny Manziel is on the list, although he doesn't really display versatility in terms of position.

Here's the full list:

Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Antonio Andrews, WKU
Dri Archer, Kent State
D.J. Banks, Louisiana Tech
Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Corey Brown, Ohio State
Isaiah Burse, Fresno State
Trey Burton, Florida
Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest
Brandon Carter, TCU
Chris Coyer, Temple
Quandre Diggs, Texas
Stefon Diggs, Maryland
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Tyler Ervin, San Jose State
Cody Fajardo, Nevada
JD Falslev, BYU
D.J. Foster, Arizona State
Jerry "BooBoo" Gates, Bowling Green
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Jamal Golden, Georgia Tech
Scott Harding, Hawaii
Akeem Hunt, Purdue
Kyshoen Jarrett, Virginia Tech
Duke Johnson, Miami (FLA)
Christion Jones, Alabama
Marqise Lee, Southern California
Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Venric Mark, Northwestern
Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
Marcus Murphy, Missouri
LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Bernard Reedy, Toledo
Jamill Smith, Ball State
Damien Thigpen, UCLA
De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Tramaine Thompson, Kansas State
Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Trey Watts, Tulsa

There are a lot of return men on that list. The award obviously factors in skill as well as pure versatility.

The award is named after Paul Hornung, who was Notre Dame's quarterback, kicker and played safety before playing running back in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers. He won the 1956 Heisman, was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in 1957 and won the 1961 NFL MVP, the only person to achieve all three honors and win a Super Bowl.

Herb Hand thinks there has been a snub!

He has a point: Johnson has moved around, but the watch list doesn't seem to reward offensive linemen. It's more impressive to play a really athletic role as a running back, wide receiver or defensive back and also run really fast returning kicks or punts, apparently.

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